State’s Action to Remove Children from Charities’ Care Forces Cessation of Lawsuit
(CHICAGO, IL) Today, the Thomas More Society announces that it will file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Illinois’ Catholic Charities against the State of Illinois, as the actions of the State have prevented the Charities from being able to obtain relief from the Illinois court system.
Because the State of Illinois has put an expedited process in place to transition to other agencies the foster children under the Charities’ care, any relief ordered by the Appellate Court would come too late to save the Charities’ foster care ministry. Both the Circuit and Appellate Courts denied the Charities’ emergency motions to prevent the transition.
“The dismantling of Catholic Charities’ foster care ministry marks a tragic end to 90 years of foster care service by some of the most effective child welfare agencies in Illinois,” said Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, which represented the Charities in their lawsuit against the State. “The Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act only passed after specific assurances that the law would not impact the work of religious social service agencies. Specific protections for these agencies were written into the law, but unfortunately, Illinois officials refused to abide by those protections. This stands as a stark lesson to the rest of the nation that legislators promising ‘religious protection’ in same sex marriage and civil union laws may not be able to deliver on those promises.”
Earlier this year, the Catholic Charities affiliates of the dioceses of Springfield, Joliet, Belleville, and Peoria took legal action in Springfield, IL, to seek injunctive relief against efforts by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) to halt the Catholic Charities’ social service agencies from any further participation in Illinois’ programs for foster care and adoption. They charged that the State distorted the meaning of relevant Illinois statutes, including the recently effective “Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act,” ignoring that Act’s explicit exemption for religious social service agencies.
Read Bishops of Belleville, Joliet, and Springfield’s press release here.